Chadian troops halted an attempted rebel advance on the capital N’Djamena on Thursday after a fierce battle in the east of the country in which 125 rebel forces were killed, the government said. Chad accused neighbouring Sudan earlier this week of sending armed groups into the east, close to the shared border of the two oil-producing countries, an accusation Khartoum denies.

“We’ve managed to put a stop to the wanderings of the mercenaries,” interim Defence Minister Adoum Younousmi told a news conference about an hour-long battle in which 21 government troops were also killed. The battle took place in the town of Am-Dam, around 100 km (65 miles) inside Chad’s eastern border with Sudan, Chadian officials told the news conference in the capital N’Djamena.

The tensions come days after the two neighbours on Monday struck a deal to halt violence and refrain from using force to resolve their conflicts. Both have long accused each other of supporting insurgent groups inside their territories. Chad and Sudan resumed shaky diplomatic ties in November after cutting them in May. Khartoum had accused Chadian President Idriss Deby of involvement in an attack on the Sudanese capital by Darfur rebels on May 11, 2008.

Asked to comment on implications of the latest clash with rebels for Chad’s ties with Sudan, Interior and Security Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir told the same news conference only: “The government will draw all the consequences of it.”



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